Oliver Twist

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Agnes Fleming Character Analysis

Oliver's unwed mother, Agnes was engaged to Oliver's father, Edward, but Edward died before they could be married; Agnes was pregnant when Edward died. Agnes gives birth to Oliver in a poorhouse, since her family has abandoned her in the wake of her pregnancy—at the novel's end, the narrator says that, though she was a fine woman, and beautiful, Agnes was "weak and erring," because of her dalliance with Edward before their marriage.

Agnes Fleming Quotes in Oliver Twist

The Oliver Twist quotes below are all either spoken by Agnes Fleming or refer to Agnes Fleming. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Oliver Twist published in 2002.
Chapter 53 Quotes

I believe that the shade of Agnes sometimes hovers round that solemn nook [in the country church]. I believe it none the les, because that nook is in a Church, and she was weak and erring.

Related Characters: Agnes Fleming
Page Number: 346
Explanation and Analysis:

This is a somewhat strange ending to the novel. Dickens has reserved a good deal of shame for Oliver's unwed mother - going so far as to blame her, implicitly, for Oliver's difficulties in life as an orphaned boy. Dickens and his narrator are unable to consider Agnes as being anything but guilty for her "crime" of giving birth to Oliver outside of wedlock. This, for the time in England, was an unpardonable sin, and Dickens does not excuse Agnes' behavior for any reason.

It is also striking that, in a novel so concerned with Oliver's development from young boyhood into young adulthood, the final paragraph should be reserved for a continued statement on the moral status of his mother. It is as though Dickens wishes to remind his audience that, despite everything, some choices - even made innocently, or having mitigating circumstances - can produce ill effects for other people involved. In this case, Dickens argues that Oliver's fate - the things in his life beyond his control, the social disadvantages he has had to endure - have a cause, and that is his mother's decision so many years before. Although it seems preposterous to a contemporary reader, this, for Dickens, was an important point to make at the close of the book.

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Agnes Fleming Character Timeline in Oliver Twist

The timeline below shows where the character Agnes Fleming appears in Oliver Twist. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Poverty, Institutions, and Class Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
...because of their misguided efforts. Since it was only the surgeon, an attending old woman, Oliver's mother , and Oliver at the birth, however, Oliver was allowed simply to "fight with Nature,"... (full context)
Poverty, Institutions, and Class Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
Oliver's mother asks to see Oliver once before she dies. The surgeon places Oliver in her arms,... (full context)
Chapter 6
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Poverty, Institutions, and Class Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
...and Oliver descend to the basement to eat dinner (as usual), and Noah asks about Oliver's mother . Oliver replies that she is dead, and Noah, knowing this, goes on to say... (full context)
Chapter 7
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Poverty, Institutions, and Class Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
...the cellar for a day or too, to "starve" him a little; he says that Oliver's mother was also physically very strong, and she fought long and hard before she died in... (full context)
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Poverty, Institutions, and Class Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
Sowerberry returns at this point. Mrs. Sowerberry insists that whatever Noah said about Oliver's mother was true, but Oliver becomes enraged at this, and shouts to Mrs. Sowerberry that these... (full context)
Chapter 38
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
...this slip and redeemed it, finding the objects in a small bag, once belonging to Oliver's mother , which she gives, at this point, to Monks. (full context)
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
In the bag are: a locket engraved with the name Agnes (and a blank for the last name), a wedding-ring, and two locks of hair. At... (full context)
Chapter 51
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Poverty, Institutions, and Class Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
...that their father is Edward Leeford, Sr., and that Oliver's mother is a woman named Agnes Fleming. Monks says aloud that Oliver is his "bastard" brother, but Brownlow immediately corrects this,... (full context)
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Poverty, Institutions, and Class Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
Monks also says that the father of Agnes Fleming, and the rest of the family (including a much younger daughter), fled to Wales... (full context)
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Poverty, Institutions, and Class Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
...hotel room, where they admit that Mrs. Bumble took the pouch from Sally, given by Agnes, which contains another link between Oliver and his mother—this they gave to Monks in the... (full context)
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Poverty, Institutions, and Class Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
...it is declared that Rose is the younger daughter of the naval captain—the sister of Agnes Fleming, Oliver's mother. This means that Rose is Oliver's aunt. Rose is thrilled to know... (full context)
Chapter 53
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Poverty, Institutions, and Class Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
City and Country Theme Icon
...the novel reveals that an empty tomb, one without a coffin, has been kept for Agnes in the local church—though she was a loving woman, she was, according to the narrator,... (full context)